With the Christmas school holidays fast approaching, it can often be a tense period for separated families when they must decide how much time the children will spend with each parent during the break.
Although you may have a good routine established for school time, the holiday period requires an adjustment to the parenting and co-parenting routines. Both parents may be working, so that conflicting work schedules need to be considered when making plans.
Our top three tips for making the Christmas school holidays as smooth as possible for separated families are:
- Make plans early – negotiating with your ex-partner last-minute about where the children will spend Christmas day, or the entire holiday period, will rarely be successful, particularly if you have a history of high conflict. The earlier that you begin to discuss the arrangements, the less pressure there is to agree immediately. Beginning to discuss the matter early allows you time to have an initial discussion, go away and think about the other parent’s proposal, and come back to negotiate a final arrangement.
- Discuss the arrangements with the children – one of the major benefits to coming to an agreement early is that you can communicate with the children about who they will be staying with for different periods of the holidays. Remember that uncertainty regarding the holiday period can be just as, if not more, stressful for your children than yourself. If your children can see that you and your ex-partner have a clear plan in place, they will be much more likely to look forward to their school holiday break, and relax and enjoy themselves throughout that period.
- Communicate throughout the holidays – even though you may have made arrangements for shared time early, you cannot let your communication lapse once the holidays commence. Given the length of the Christmas holidays, circumstances may change, or additional plans may affect the time you have already agreed upon, for example if one parent receives an invitation for a child to attend a sleepover that will occur when the child will be spending time with the other parent. It is important to keep each other updated on what is happening so that changeover doesn’t become a heated event. It is also never appropriate to burden children with the task of being the messenger between yourself and your ex-partner.